The blurring history of intervocalic devoicing
Gasper Begus, Maksymilian Dąbkowski
May 2024

The intervocalic position favors voicing in stops. Yet, some languages have been reported to feature the opposite (unnatural) process of intervocalic devoicing. This paper investigates two such case studies. Pre-Berawan intervocalic *b and *g have developed into Berawan k. Pre-Kiput intervocalic *g, *ɟʝ, and *v have developed into Kiput k, cç, and f, respectively. To account for the data, we invoke Beguš's (2018, 2019) blurring process model of sound change. The model proposes that unnatural phonology derives from a sequence of at least three phonetically motivated sound changes. We argue that the steps involved in intervocalic devoicing are (i) the intervocalic fricativization of voiced stops, (ii) devoicing of fricatives, and (iii) the occlusion of devoiced fricatives. Each of the steps is independently attested and motivated. We demonstrate that our blurring process proposal explains aspects of the historical development unaccounted for by previous approaches, and present new evidence suggesting that a single sound change could not have operated in the prehistory of Berawan. Thus, we maintain the conservative position that unnatural diachronic developments arise from sequences of natural and phonetically grounded sound changes.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007386
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Journal of Linguistics
keywords: beguš, dabkowski, intervocalic, devoicing, unnatural, unmotivated, berawan, kiput, voicing, stops, plosives, fricativization, affrication, occlusion, blurring, process, development, history, diachrony, historical, diachronic, sound, change, telescoping, phonetic, motivation, motivated, austronesian, lenition, weakening, fortition, strengthening, phonology
previous versions: v1 [June 2023]
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